Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tools For My Weight Loss

I have been working on losing weight and focusing on my health for the last year and 3 months now.  Along the way, I have discovered many tools that help.  We all have things that work (or don't work) for us.  I think so much of this journey is trial and error and keeping things fun and exciting.  These are some of things that help me on my journey:

I love it!  I haven't had it very long, but it's such a motivator.  (The calories burned in the picture above are from the Tanawha Trail 13 mile hike).  I often avoid hills when I can when walking the dogs, but since I have my HRM now, I will intentionally go up hills just to burn extra calories!  I also tend to work out harder to get my heart rate up and burn more calories.  I love knowing how many calories I burn with my exercise.  If I slack off one day, I can look down and see that.  I can see that I am not burning as many calories as I would have if I put more effort into it.  I bought my HRM from Heart Rate Monitors USA.  It was on sale and then I did an internet search for coupons for that website.  Sure enough, I found a coupon that gave me an additional 5% or 10% off.  I think the total cost was around $118. 

Food Scale

This is my food scale that I use.  I ordered it from Amazon about a year ago and I use it all of the time now.  When I first got it, I wasn't aware of what the "Tare" button could do.  I didn't know that it was the button that cleared off the weight of the container that you put on the scale.  So when I initially got the food scale, I was making it way more complicated than what it needed to be.  Everytime I weighed something, it was like I was having to do some big math equation just to find out how much the food weighed.  I got annoyed with it and actually didn't use it often unless I could put the food directly on the scale without needing a container.  Then someone on the Weight Watchers Vegetarian Message Board (I will talk more about this later) was talking about their scale and how it had the "Tare" option.  So from reading that post on the VB, I realized that I had that button too and how it made using the scale SOOOO much easier.  After that, I used the scale all of the time and still do.  When I felt like I was hitting a plateau, I decided to start weighing more of my foods.  I would always measure 3/4 or 1 cup of cereal or pasta out but kind of felt like I might be "cheating" a little bit.  Well...."cheating" a "little bit" is definitely an understatement.  When I looked at 3/4 of a cup of my cereal actually weighed out (about 30 grams) it was so much less than what I was measuring out for myself.  The scale has become my saving grace with pasta as well.  I used to just make a pot of pasta and then measure out 1 cup.  But when I would measure it out, I would smash the pasta down in the cup or I would let it spill out over the cup.  Pasta is definitely a trigger food for me, so I had to figure out something or else I would have to stop eating it.  I didn't want to stop eating it, so I started measuring it out before I cooked it.  I only measure out what I am going to need for dinner that night.  I measure out mine and then I measure out Rebekah's and I cook them in separate pots.  This works like a charm.  I can eat all of the pasta that I cooked and I have found I am perfectly satisfied with 1serving.  But if the pasta is there, I will continue to eat it.  If you click on the Amazon link above, it will take you directly to the food scale that I own.  It's a necessity for me now...I even took it to Atlanta this weekend! 

Phoenix and Cornelius
I know it might seem strange that my dogs are listed as a "weight loss tool" but they really are.  I basically have to walk them every day or they turn into little crazy demons running around the house.  They expect to be walked.  It's not really an option.  Plus, I am responsible for them.  It's in their best interest and health too.  They deserve to be walked just as much as I deserve to take a walk.  It's a win win for all of us.  The picture below is of Phoenix.  He gets the shorter walk each day because he had knee surgery about 3 years ago and just can't handle a long walk.
This next picture is of Cornelius.  Corny likes to take long walks.  He actually lives for walks....and popcorn.  Those are his two favorite things in the world.  Everything else takes a backseat to those two things.  (He also loves Michael Franti music but not as much as walks and popcorn.)  Cornelius is blind so I really have to be careful when I walk him.  If I stop paying attention, he often runs into poles and other things.  Other than that, being blind doesn't get in the way of him living a happy life. 

I decided when I joined Weight Watchers this time around (my third time) that I would try and use all of the resources that I could.  The last time I had joined Weight Watchers, I did not use any of the message boards.  But this time I around, when I discovered there was a vegetarian message board, I decided to check it out.  I am so glad I did.  It is one of the most useful tools I could ever imagine.  The people who come to the VB (as it's called) are wonderful and inspiring.  If I ever have a question, I can almost count on one of them to have an answer for me.  I also post on the Daily OP Thread where we declare each day that we will be OP (on plan, on points, on program, etc.).  This helps me out a great deal.  It's pretty much the same group of people each day so we are held accountable with each other.  I am also part of the monthly fitness challenge thread.  Each month, I figure out how many minutes of activity I plan on doing and write it down in my calendar.  Then I post my minutes at the end of each day to the fitness thread.  The structure of it keeps me focused, and once again, the accountability really helps out. 

I love the VB!  I actually had a chance to go to a VB retreat this summer on the coast of Oregon.  It was fantastic.  I met some amazing women and had a great time.  It was a wonderful opportunity to be able to meet up with the people I had been sharing my weight loss journey with for the previous year.  I hope I have the opportunity to another one again in the future. 

My menu notebook
When I joined Weight Watchers in June of 2009, I knew I had to do it differently than I had in the past.  Obviously, something was not working with how I was doing it in the past.  I decided to become as structured as possible with my day to day life in order to gain control.  I was out for summer break (I work on a public school calendar), so I decided to create a notebook that would help organize meals, grocery lists, recipes, etc. 
This notebook is just about falling apart on me, but it has helped me so much.  Each weekend, Rebekah and I meal plan together.  The first thing I do is I go through the fridge and kitchen and find all of the produce that needs to be used. 
As the week goes on and we use the produce, I mark it off the list.  (I love lists and checking things off of them!  I am such a nerd.)  So, once we have our produce list, we meal plan around that.  (We also meal plan around what we can find at the farmers market.) 
Then the next thing we do is we create a grocery list for the things that we need for these recipes but we don't have.  This has really cut down on the number of times we have to go to the grocery store each week.  We typically have what we need for the week and we don't have to go back to the store until the next weekend. 
I have started putting my notebook inside a binder to be even more organized.  Now I keep all of the Weight Watchers handouts they give you at the meetings (story boarding, positive outcomes, etc.) inside the binder.  Now I have all of the important things I need inside that binder to be successful. 

If you haven't checked out Spark People, you really should.  It's free and has so much great information.  I decided to track my calories, protein, fat, and carbs for awhile on Spark People and it was very interesting to see the break down of my food for the day.  Weight Watchers is great, but you never really know how much protein or carbs you are getting each day.  I also love to enter recipes into their recipe site.  I like it better than the recipe builder on Weight Watchers.  It's just a great website to check out and it's FREE! 

My Weight Watchers 6 month tracker
I have been using this since I started back on Weight Watchers.  I use it everyday.  I check off my Good Health Guidelines and I keep track of my activity in this too.  I try to remember to always have it with me (I forgot it today!) so I can enter in foods I eat right away.  I don't have a fancy cell phone, so I can't use any of the apps that help you track food.  I have to stick with the old fashioned way by using a pen and paper.  It works though! 

My parents got this for me for Christmas last year.  I don't use it everyday, but it is such a great thing to have.  We had a really rough winter last year, and this allowed me to workout everyday without getting a gym membership.  I HATE gyms!  I use several different games.  One of my favorites is Wii Tennis.  Surprisingly, you can burn a lot of calories playing Wii Tennis.  I also have the Wii Fit but I don't use it a lot anymore.  I feel like I get a better workout using the Wii Active and Active-More Workouts.  My latest Wii game purchase was the Biggest Loser Wii game.  I don't use it a lot but it's definitely a workout.  I would much rather workout outside, but the Wii gives me so much flexibility with my workouts.  It's definitely a great tool for me. 

I have done a couple of posts of weight loss blogs out there (especially vegan ones).   They really do help me so much.  If you want to check out some of the blogs I read, I have created a blog roll on the right side of my blog that lists the most updated blogs.  I actually use this as a tool so I can see when my favorite blogs have been updated.  It get so much inspiration, tips and advice from blogs.  Other people going through this process have so many great things to say. 

There are many other great tools out there, but these are just some that I can think of.  If you have any great weight loss tools, tips, etc., please let me know! 



  1. great tools! I am a pen and paper tracker, too. I love the idea of taking product inventory and planning your shopping around that. Why didn't I think of that?! :-)

  2. Thanks, Leah! The "inventory" approach to shopping makes a big difference. We barely have to throw out produce anymore.

  3. I love your tool kit!! So helpful when you have the right things to help you. Love the shopping inventory too! Makes life so much easier when you know what's there and what you need.